Providing a valuable opportunity for authentic training, the fire brigades were able to use the empty Hotel to perform a training drill where they filled the third floor with cosmetic smoke, and performed a search and rescue mission to recover dummies planted in some of the rooms.
The drill provided 25 fire fighters with a unique opportunity to practice a search and rescue mission where they were blinded by smoke, and required to navigate an unfamiliar setting with lots of stairs and bedrooms. The firefighters were also able to test their proactive command and support structure for dealing with incidents in Hotels, and compare how the procedures differ between fire brigades.
Rutland Arms Hotel is owned by Review Hotels Ltd, the family-run business, which also owns Newmarket’s prestigious 4-red star Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa. Review Hotels Ltd acquired the historic Rutland Arms Hotel in March 2018, and has since initiated extensive plans to restore, renovate and refurbish the 17th century building.
Martyn Hazelwood, who has been an On Call firefighter at Newmarket Fire Brigade for 37 years, and is now the On-call Watch Commander, organised the training with Watch Commander Seager and firefighter Paul Grimes, and with the help of Noel Byrne, Chief Executive at the Rutland Arms Hotel and Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa.
Martyn commented: “Our fire fighters are required to attend any incident and be prepared to take immediate action, but sometimes providing thorough training to prepare our teams to deal with any possible scenario can be difficult. Having the use of an actual Hotel, with all of the obstacles you would expect in the real situation, has been phenomenally valuable for our teams. We’ve been able to run practice drills and procedures, and found new ways of collaborating with our neighbouring brigades, which is helpful for when we’re required to take on cross-border working.
“From start to finish, it was fantastic how helpful all of the staff from Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa and the Rutland Arms Hotel were in helping us to arrange the exercise – one member of staff even took on an acting role as she greeted the firefighters when they arrived at the scene! We are extremely grateful for the opportunity.”
Noel Byrne, Chief Executive at the Rutland Arms Hotel and Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, commented: “We’re very excited to get the redevelopment of the Rutland Arms Hotel underway, and, while we’re still in the planning stages, it’s brilliant to be able to offer the space for important initiatives like this. Built in the 17th Century, The Rutland Arms provided a unique – and complex – setting for the fire fighters to gain valuable practice of a search and rescue mission! For any locals wondering what the commotion was about – we can confirm it was a training exercise!
“The iconic building stands at the top of Newmarket high street, and our plans for the restoration, renovation and refurbishment will harness the rich history of the Hotel, restoring it to its former glory and creating a fantastic place for both the local community and visitors to enjoy.”
Review Hotels Ltd is currently in the design stage of the redevelopment. It is expected that the project will be completed by the end of 2021.